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Title: Mission in Proclamation but Action Ranking: A Comparative Study of Public and Private Higher Learning Institutions Community service and Engagement in Ethiopia?
Authors: Alamirewu, Taye
Keywords: Higher education, community service, community engagement, institutional policy
Issue Date: Aug-2015
Abstract: Under the existing education and training policy framework (1994) and higher education proclamation (2003, 2009), higher learning institutions (HLIs) in Ethiopia are born for the people by the people to accomplish three interrelated core missions of which reaching local and regional communities and address unmet social, economic, cultural problems via community service and engagement mission is one. The objective of the study was to assess the state of the art and the art of the state of serving and engaging in the community by shifting from ‘knowledge transfer via graduates’ to ‘knowledge application to solve community problems’. The study employed qualitative approach (content analysis) and operational plan reports of higher learning institutions, MOE supervision team reports including site visits, various meeting presentations were sources of data. Nine public and three private higher learning institutions were included in the study selected randomly. Coding and thematic analyses were used to analyze data as it is a qualitative study. Findings show that higher learning institutions are at different stages of conceptualizing, formalizing and implementing community service and engagement activities via developing institutional policies, strategies or road maps and procedures. In looking patterns and areas, themes namely continuing education, applied and community based research, consultancy service, entrepreneurship and enterprising small businesses, innovation and technology transfer, capacity building activities, service learning, environmental protection activities and graduate tracer study were identified to be areas of engagement though vary from institutions to institutions in scope, scale and type. Also, public higher learning institutions seem in better practices than private higher learning institutions in engaging in multidimensional community activities. Lack of comprehensive research and community engagement institutionalpolicy, internal procedure, sustainability, readiness and attitude of staff and outcome evaluation were also observed as shortcomings in the majority of institutions under investigations. Finally, it is learned that, no big problem that really matters (e.g., poverty, environmental degradation, illiteracy, hunger, poor schooling, urban crises etc) can be solved and understood without academics and practitioners working closely together to solve it. Therefore; successful institution-community partnerships, including communication about procedures, goals, and priorities; the ability to adapt to external changes; a vision on both sides for positive change; support from local leaders; collective efforts should be strengthened so that institutions and communities can help one another to fulfill their priorities and, above all, institutions should be guided by developing institutional policy that dictates pre-mission institutional arrangements or preparations, in mission coordination strategies and post- mission evaluation instruments.
Appears in Collections:Proceedings of the 13th International Conference on Private Higher Education in Africa

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